POSTED: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - 4:30pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 - 4:44pm
EAST TEXAS — State Rep. David Simpson, R-Longview, has referred to his 2010 defeat of seven-term House incumbent Tommy Merritt as a “David and Goliath-like” battle.
This year, the candidates in the House District 7 GOP primary race are the same, but the roles are reversed, with Merritt now looking to unseat the incumbent Simpson. And East Texas GOP leaders again see a close race.
Merritt, also of Longview, is a veteran politician with a reputation of making the necessary political moves to bring perks back to his district. As a freshman in the House, Simpson became known for voting in line with the principles of limited government — but not necessarily in line with the Republican Party. Both candidates are attempting to use their opponent’s purported strengths — Simpson’s self-described “Constitutionalist” values and Merritt’s record of bringing money back to the district — against each other.
In the 2010 election, Simpson, a Tea Party favorite, upset Merritt, winning 53 percent of the vote to Merritt's 47 percent. Merritt said he underestimated Simpson, whose political experience included a five-year stint as mayor of Avinger, a small town east of HD-7.